Why Vanilla Sex Can Be Scarier Than Kink

Doing something a bit different with my #KinkMonth post today, and talking about… vanilla sex! Today’s prompt, which comes as ever from Kayla Lords’ awesome 30 Days of D/s, deals with introducing kink to a previously vanilla relationship. Kayla and John say:

“Everyone is at a different point in life. Some people are married and happily kinky. Others are happily kinky but still single. And some find themselves thinking about kink while worrying about how to tell their vanilla partner. At some point, we can all find ourselves in a similar situation.”

Two vanilla pods resting on a small brown dish of what appears to be sugar, plus another pod to the side of the dish.

Now I’ve actually never been there. I’ve never been in a truly vanilla relationship. Therefore, today I’m going to talk about my relationship to the V Word. (No, not virginity. This one’s about something that exists.)

You might be unsurprised to know that your girl over here, who runs a blog called “Coffee and Kink,” doesn’t have vanilla sex that often. The vast majority of my sex involves some kind of power exchange element, though the level varies depending on my mood and my relationship with the other person.

What might surprise you is that I love vanilla sex. Not all the time – it’d bore the pants off me (um, as it were) if I had it too often! I need at least chocolate sprinkles the vast majority of the time. But what might also surprise you – it certainly surprised me when I realised it – is that vanilla sex can sometimes feel scarier to me than kink play.

No role to hide behind.

In vanilla sex, I’m just me. In a kink scene, I can be a victim, a willing slave, a feisty brat or a good girl. But in plain old sex, I’m just Amy, with all the roles and pretenses stripped away.

This is a profoundly vulnerable place for me to go to. To let someone see me – really see me, stripped back, with no role to hide behind – can be terrifying. That’s why, paradoxically, I’ll do kinky shit with fairly casual partners but only completely vanilla sex with someone I deeply love and trust.

With no-one to tell me what to do, the insecurities start to creep in.

When I’m submitting, I feel confident that I’m doing what my Dominant partner wants. I am literally doing exactly what they tell me to do. I don’t have to make decisions and I can relax into the safety of letting somebody else be in charge. When I’m Dominant, I don’t have to feel guilty about asking for what I want, because that’s the entire damn point. I’m also hyper tuned in to my partner’s reactions, because it is my responsibility to keep them safe.

In vanilla sex, with nobody to tell me what to do, the doubts start to creep in. Am I doing this properly? Are they having a good time? Do they like what I’m doing and will they tell me if they don’t? And on the flip side, without a veneer of Dominance to hide it behind, asking for what I want is fucking scary. When I’m fucking someone as an equal[1], I worry about coming across as too bossy, too demanding, too needy if I ask them to go harder, faster, slower, more gently, a little to the right.

Kink gives me a huge amount of permission to lie back and have things done to me without worrying, or to ask for exactly what I want without apology. In a vanilla setting, I have to grant myself that permission without a role to do it for me. Sometimes, taking that permission slip can be surprisingly scary.

Vanilla is not “plain” and it’s not lesser.

Vanilla sex isn’t the easy option for people who are too repressed or boring or inexperienced for kink. Like its namesake, vanilla is a complex and delicious flavour. Vanilla sex can be loving, affirming, sensual, playful, serious, funny and just plain hot. And sometimes, being just yourself with no other character or role to hide behind, can be the scariest place to go.

[1] Of course we’re always equals really, but D/s involves a facade of inequality in order for the game to work.

Kink item of the day: a Dragon Tail! (I have no connection with this company, I just love their stuff.) (Disclaimer: dragon tails can be dangerous. Have someone teach you how to use one properly and get appropriate practice before you try one on a person!)

The image featured in this post was offered for use via Creative Commons Licensing.

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Beyond Safewords: Tools to Help You Stay Safe

It’s #KinkMonth! I’m celebrating by writing posts inspired by Kayla Lords’ fantastic 30 Days of D/s project, which you should totally check out.

Today is all about safewords, a subject about which I have Many Feelings. Kayla and John ask simply:

So, the question today is, what’s your safeword? If you don’t want to have one, why not?

A set of traffic lights on s dark background, red, amber and green, for a post about safewords

I love safewords. Truly, I do. There are fairly few things in kink I take a really hard line on, but you need to have a safeword is one of them. (Along with “thou shalt not cheat” and “it’s all a game at the end of the day.” But those are both subjects for other posts.

A safeword, for those not aware, is basically a word that means STOP IMMEDIATELY. It’s useful in scenes where words like “no” and “stop” are not supposed to be taken at face value – resistance play and certain roleplay scenarios, for example. The most common safeword is “red,” but any word you wouldn’t normally use in a kinky context will work. My first safeword was “canary.” I also used “aardvark” at one point.

Again: safewords are really, really important. If you’re playing any kind of scene where “no” might not really mean no, you must have a safeword. Others will disagree with me, and that’s fine. But again: I take a really hard line on this. Have a fucking safeword.

But safewords are not the be-all, end-all of safe BDSM. So here I want to suggest a few other tools you might want to have in your “safer kinky fuckery” toolkit.

The word “no.”

In the absence of very explicit negotiation to the contrary, “no” is the untimate safeword for everyone. Unless you’ve very clearly spelled out “for the length of this scene (or relationship, I suppose,) no doesn’t mean no”… guess what? No means fucking no.

A “check in” or “adjust” word.

The most popular of these is “orange” or “amber” (usually alongside red, like a system of traffic lights. “Green,” though less commonly used, means “keep going!”) This is valuable because it differentiates between needing to bring the entire scene to a screeching halt, and just needing to adjust something.

Mr CK and I have agreed that if I say “red,” the scene is finished and we’ll stop playing, commence aftercare and debrief about what went wrong. “Orange,” though, could just mean “I’m nearing my limit, maybe spank a little more gently” or “my arm’s going to sleep, can we change positions?”

Really robust negotiation.

You’ve fully negotiated before you began playing, right? (Read this post for tips and tricks on doing just that.) Of course, things can always go wrong and there’s no shame in that as long as everyone was operating in good faith. But the more fully and clearly you negotiate, the better chance you have of having a hot, sexy scene where everything goes well.

A 1-1o scale.

This is mostly useful if you’re engaging in pain play of any kind. 1 typically means “I can’t feel it,” whereas 10 means “I am about to use my safeword.” The sweet spot will vary from person to person, and you should be ready to communicate yours to your partner if you use this scale.

For me, anything between a 4 and an 8 is enjoyable. Lower than 4, and I’m probably not getting much out of it. 9 is well into the “I’m enjoying the endurance challenge of this but not the pain itself” territory, and 10 is pretty much synonymous with “orange, stop hitting me right now.” I once Topped a guy, though, whose goal was to hit a solid 9 and stay there for most of the scene.

Again, no one size fits all, but the scale is a useful way of communicating if you’re engaging in pain type play.

Body language and non-verbal communication.

If you know each other well, you probably know each other’s body language and non-verbal cues pretty well.

Does he go silent when something’s wrong? Do deep, guttural moans mean she’s having fun, but high-pitched squeaks mean she’s reaching her limit? Do they clench their fists when they’re having a tough time with something? Is crying good or bad?

Body language is far from foolproof, and should go alongside using your words, but it’s a massive part of how we communicate as human beings and can be a really, really valuable tool if you take the time to tune in.

References.

If you want to play with a new person and they’re active on their local scene and/or Fetlife, it’s a good idea to do some asking around and see what their reputation is. Most people won’t hesitate to tell you what their impression or experience of someone is.

Sadly, this method has its problems, and how useful it is will likely depend upon your local scene politics. Kink communities often have a problem with sheltering abusers (especially if the abuser is popular, charming or throws good parties.)

Ask around, always seek a second opinion whatever you hear, and don’t rely solely on this information to keep you safe.

Safe-calls.

This is where you arrange to call/text/otherwise contact someone – perhaps a friend or another partner? – at a prearranged time, during or after a date, to tell them you’re safe.

For example: “I’ll call you by 4pm. If I don’t, please call me. If I don’t answer, I’m in trouble, here’s where I’ll be.”

Aside from the obvious benefit of having someone who knows where you are, who you’re with and can alert the relevant authorities quickly if something happens to you, setting up a safe call and informing them about it can also tell you a lot about the person you’re going to play with. If you say “I need to call my friend at 4pm to let her know I’m safe,” a good play partner will say “sure, maybe set an alarm to remind yourself” and not “WHAT THE FUCK WHY DON’T YOU TRUST ME I’M A NICE GUY!!!”

If it’s a variation on the latter, run.

A spotter.

Lastly, a tool which I feel is under-utilised but really, really valuable. A spotter watches the scene but is not directly involved unless they’re needed. For example, a more experienced rigger might watch a rope scene to make sure the tie is safe. Using spotters is brilliant when you’re learning new skills, but their usefulness extends beyond just beginners. If you’re playing with someone new or someone you don’t know very well, having a third party to observe and check in if necessary can help to keep you safe – especially if it’s someone who knows you, and your reactions, particularly well.

What tools do you use to keep yourself and your partners safe, beyond just safewords?

Kinky item of the day: Jacks Floggers’ pocket singletail. This is not an affiliate link and I have no connection to the company, I just love the hell out of his stuff. I bought this whip for Mr CK last Christmas and we both adore it. (MASSIVE SAFETY DISCLAIMER: singletails are dangerous. Please do not use one on a person until you’ve been taught how by an expert and had adequate practice.)

The image in this post was offered for use under creative commons licensing.

[Kink Product Review] Rouge Garments Leather Spiral Flogger

Did I mention that sex bloggers get the BEST goodie bags at our events? Well, we do. The lovely people at Rouge Garments provided various goodies for the June Lube and Laptop meet, and mine turned out to be this fittingly red red red (seriously this thing is so red) leather flogger.

The bright red Rouge Garments Leather Spiral Flogger. For a review post.

This flogger is pretty hefty. End to end it’s about 71cm, of which 51cm is the falls and 20cm the handle. (On Rouge’s site it lists the length of falls as 47cm, so mine may be a slightly over-long prototype.) Either way it’s got a lot of length to it.

My Ratings (all scores out of 5★)

Price: ★★★★
The flogger retails on Rouge Garments’ own site for £29.99, which is a very reasonable price for a real leather product.

Materials: ★★★★★
It’s 100% real leather, which is my material of choice for hitty items in general. Vegans and stricter vegetarians may want to steer clear, but that’s a matter of personal choice. (I’ll hold my hands up as a hypocritical vegetarian who loves leather here.)

Appearance & Quality: ★★★
It comes in black or red, which are pretty standard colours for BDSM equipment. I’d love to see more variety in this area in general! The design is fine though I don’t think it’s the prettiest item in Rouge’s store – my personal aesthetic tastes lean more along the lines of leather falls with a wooden or metal handle, rather than all-over leather, but that’s a matter of preference. It seems generally solid in terms of craftsmanship, but my one gripe (and it’s a pretty major one) is with the length of the falls. They’re not cut evenly and there is a disparity of more than an inch between the longest and shortest. This does, unfortunately, make an otherwise well-made product look somewhat cheap and slapdash.

Ease of Wielding: ★★★
Like all longer floggers, it takes some practice to wield effectively, but this isn’t a criticism of the product. Generally the longer the hitty thing, the harder it is to wield. It is very light for its size, though, which is a plus point. I could use it for quite a while without my arm getting tired, and I’m far from the strongest person around. Mr CK pointed out that, due to the handle not being smooth (the leather is effectively wrapped around in a spiral shape,) the ridges did start to hurt his hand after a little while.

Feel: ★★★
I adore the feel of real leather on my skin. For me, this flogger is just about the perfect thud/sting balance. The weight is just enough to give it a nice thud, while the thin falls follow that initial thud with a little bit of bite. The uneven falls do increase the tendency for mishits to happen, though, which led to a couple of “BAD ouch” moments. Not recommended for anyone who wants pure thud or intense sting, but a good option if you like a mix.

Overall Score: ★★★
Not the greatest flogger I’ve ever used but far from the worst, either. I’d recommend it for people with some flogging experience who want to try out a larger flogger, and for anyone who wants to add some real leather to their collection but is on a budget. If you want pure beauty and craft, though, I’d skip this one and head on over to Jack’s Floggers or Kabunza instead.

Rouge Garments generously gifted these products and asked for honest reviews. All opinions are, and will always be, my own. There are no affiliate links in this post.